Fenix Rage PC Review
It should go without saying that most hardcore gamers are a glutton for punishment. Anyone who has been playing videogames since the NES era can attest to years of migraines and vulgar outbursts as a result of suffering through a challenging game. The ones that happen to actually be fun to play tend to prove the most aggravating, as players are motivated to fight through the pain in order to reach the end of their love/hate relationship.
Super Meat Boy was a modern release that embraced this concept wholeheartedly, ushering in a new era of super-hard games that proved as rewarding as they were punishing thanks to tight controls and an addictive “just one more” mindset typically associated with Arcade games. Since then, many indie projects have attempted to capitalize on the success (and nostalgia) of Super Meat Boy; Fenix Rage, a 2D platformer by Green Lava Studios, may just prove to be the closest imitator yet, both aesthetically and mechanically.
The story of Fenix Rage is….a bad guy blows up the hero’s town, and he pursues him. That’s it. Clearly inspired by the antagonistic relationship between Super Meat Boy and his nemesis, Dr Fetus, the unnamed enemy taunts Fenix across hundreds of levels, where the goal is to survive an onslaught of pitfalls and platforms in order to reach the enemy at the end, only to have him teleport at the last moment to the next level. Rinse and repeat for 200 levels, with a puzzle-inspired boss fight at the end of each major area. Fenix Rage’s premise may be even more simplistic than Super Meat Boy’s, but the 90’s era art design does give it a more differentiating look, even if the main character does look like the unholy offspring of Sonic the Hedgehog and Wolverine.
From a gameplay perspective, Fenix Rage seems to be a complete rip-off of Meat Boy; levels are zoomed out to offer a wide layout, the character can run, jump and slide down walls, and there are even collectibles and warp zones located off the beaten path of each area (the former is served in the form of cookies, where collecting a complete set of cookies in each area unlocks a detailed cookie recipe…no, seriously). What sets Fenix apart, however, is the ability to jump infinitely in the air as well as being able to dash both on the ground and off.
These two additional moves completely change the way players must navigate each level. Whereas Super Meat Boy focused on hard-to-reach platforms and traps, Fenix Rage focuses more on moving objects that are deadly to the touch. These green blobs follow a fixed pattern that is easy to memorize, but the sheer volume of these obstructions is where things get tricky. Setting the path to the end goal is simple enough, but actually reaching it without getting into contact with one of the hundreds of hazards in each stage is another thing entirely.
The most crucial element in games of this nature are the controls; if the controls fail to be perfectly precise, then the entire game falls apart. Fortunately, Fenix Rage controls perfectly, even more so than Super Meat Boy. This is fortunate, given the tighter restraints that players have to work with. As for which game is technically harder, that is a more subjective debate, but Fenix Rage is certainly a challenging game in its own right. If there is one small advantage that it does have over Super Meat Boy, it is the speed in which the game instantly restarts at the beginning of each stage. There is no need to push a button to restart after a death, nor is there any delay of any kind; the very millisecond that players die, they are brought right to the beginning of the stage. As snappy as this feature is, it is also devious in that it can create even more deaths for impatient players looking to dash right out of a respawn.
Ultimately, people will have no one to blame but themselves for failing in Fenix Rage, which is certainly a good thing. However, this also means that the game should not be played for long sessions at a time, but rather in short bursts; once a point is reached where you cannot advance any further, that would be the ideal moment to take a break and come back with a cool head. Such is the nature of Fenix Rage, a game that punishes players the moment they rage themselves. Despite being a shorter and less varied experience than Super Meat Boy, this game perfectly fills the void felt by anyone looking for a new platformer where they will snap their controllers in frustration.